Latest articles

Getting to the root of the matter

For a look at the big picture, the ‘old’ research on roots is still relevant today

Plant roots are receiving more attention of late and well they should. Roots are the foragers that deliver water and nutrients to the plant, but too often our attitude is “out of sight, out of mind.” With the current interest in many plant species, cover crops and soil health, much of it comes down to […] Read more

A price chart is worth a thousand words

What can we learn from a look back at this May 2017 canola futures chart?

I was looking at this May 2017 canola futures charts the other day to remind myself just how much we can learn from them. It is a lot easier to figure out the trends and patterns on a chart after they’ve happened than it is to decipher what will happen while it is happening. Cyclical […] Read more

Leaving your livestock to a farm-sitter

Reporter's Notebook: Before you get on the plane, you're going to have to find someone to feed and watch those cows

How do cattle producers manage to leave for winter holidays if they aren’t working with extended family? It’s a conundrum producers have likely faced since they first domesticated cattle-beasts. Several years ago, while I was still living in Edmonton, I remember hearing about a guy, Frank Campbell, who was setting up a farm-sitting service. Basically […] Read more

The wacky world of decision-making

Hart Attacks: When there is too much information, there must be an app for that

Here’s one “flypaper” email list you want to avoid — the Conservative Party of Canada. I made the mistake back in Stephen Harper’s days as prime minister — it might have even been during his first term — but I sent a donation to the Conservative Party. The pitch was if I sent even a […] Read more

Maintain augers and create work zones to prevent entanglements

An auger in good condition is critical when it comes time to move grains and feed around the farm. Augers can also be some of the most hazardous machines on the farm, especially if they haven’t been properly maintained. Although Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting statistics have identified runovers as the top cause of agriculture-related fatalities, […] Read more

Precision ag may not work on your farm

In the field, precision ag does not yet live up to the hype that has surrounded it

If we go into a farm meeting and ask how many are using auto steer almost all hands go up. If you ask how many are using variable rate only a few respond. The uptake has been slow and many techies think that farmers are slow adopters. Guess what folks: if it works farmers are […] Read more

The need for better record keeping

Reporter's Notebook: It’s not one of agronomy’s most exciting issues, but it’s a need that’s not going away

At CanolaLAB in Vermilion in February, record-keeping kept popping up during the agronomy sessions. Murray Hartman of Alberta Agriculture and the Canola Council’s Dan Orchard facilitated an interesting session on plant stand establishment. Target plant stand recommendations have dropped a little, but before farmers cut seeding rates, they need to know how many plants are […] Read more

Guarding Wealth: Long-term investing is a sure thing

There are short-term risks, but inflation and survivor bias make long-term bets winners

Let’s have a heart to heart talk about the fundamentals of investing on the farm and off the farm and, for that matter, investing in education for a career or a used car. Every investment has character, whether it’s a tech stock and you have to bet on a new trend or product on the […] Read more

Simplifying phosphorus

Experts’ opinion on P fertilizer have changed over time, and are still changing now

In the early days of fertilizer use on the Canadian Prairies phosphorus was the only game in town- mostly 11-48-0. “If in doubt use 11-48,” was the chant. Much work was done to find the amounts to use for various crops and soils and the best way to put it on. We thought we knew […] Read more

Maximum versus optimum economic yield

Agronomy Management: Often, aiming for maximum yield doesn’t give you the maximum bottom line profit

Is your farm most profitable when you achieve maximum yield or optimum economic yield? There can be substantial differences in the amount of inputs needed for maximum crop yield compared to the economic optimum yield. Applying a higher level of inputs may give you maximum yield but often won’t provide the greatest profit per acre. […] Read more